Thursday, January 20, 2011

Small Sips is Thinking More Rationally Than Last Week

Okay, but the other thing is still important. David Brooks wrote an opinion piece on last week's shootings in Arizona. After a brief overview of Loughner's reading list and Youtube videos, he says:
All of this evidence, which is easily accessible on the Internet, points to the possibility that Loughner may be suffering from a mental illness like schizophrenia. The vast majority of schizophrenics are not violent, and those that receive treatment are not violent. But as Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, a research psychiatrist, writes in his book, “The Insanity Offense,” about 1 percent of the seriously mentally ill (or about 40,000 individuals) are violent. They account for about half the rampage murders in the United States.

Other themes from Loughner’s life fit the rampage-killer profile. He saw himself in world historical terms. He appeared to have a poor sense of his own illness (part of a condition known as anosognosia). He had increasingly frequent run-ins with the police. In short, the evidence before us suggests that Loughner was locked in a world far removed from politics as we normally understand it.

Yet the early coverage and commentary of the Tucson massacre suppressed this evidence. The coverage and commentary shifted to an entirely different explanation: Loughner unleashed his rampage because he was incited by the violent rhetoric of the Tea Party, the anti-immigrant movement and Sarah Palin.
Brooks goes on to mention the ongoing problem in our society of suppressing or ignoring mental illness. As such, he criticizes the media for making this about something else, namely, the result of inflamed political rhetoric. I'm not going to argue his point, because I think it's a good and correct one. Mental health is a severely overlooked and underfunded issue, and the 1% of those who suffer from mental illness with violent tendencies need to be given special attention.

However, I don't think that this should let Palin et al. off the hook. There has been a lot of irresponsible and inflammatory things said, suggested, implied, and whatever else in recent years. Who is to say that somebody from that aforementioned 1% will never react to it; never try to take matters into one's own hands?

Since the shootings, people who have espoused such rhetoric have suddenly done a 180 on the importance of words. A few years ago, people were expressing grave concern about what President Obama was hearing from his pastor and how that speech was affecting him. Now many of those same gravely concerned people are saying that individuals act on their own impulses and surely cannot be affected by what others say. The fact that Palin's people scrubbed that gunsight map from their website shows that they knew something about it was inappropriate, but it took Loughner's actions to help them realize that.

I feel a little better about this. This part is about Michigan, so you can skip it if you want. Just know that you're never going to escape me talking about it on this blog.

A couple things have transpired since Brady Hoke was hired as the new football coach that make me less despondent. First up, Denard is staying:
It's official: Denard Robinson is returning to Michigan next season.

The star quarterback confirmed in a video interview with the Michigan athletics Web site that he will return to play for new coach Brady Hoke.

Hoke said last week that Robinson had decided to stay.

Robinson considered transferring after Rich Rodriguez was fired. But Robinson said Monday his relationships with teammates were too important to him to leave.

"They were getting in touch with me the whole time and just making sure I made the right decision, not trying to rush things and not trying to force anything," Robinson said on "My teammates, we talked, and I told them, 'I just can't leave you out there.' I've been around these guys two years and we've bonded and it's like a family here. There's nothing like this.

"This is my family … this is home now. My parents and all my family they call this my second home. I couldn't let it go."
The team will not only be returning Robinson, but pretty much everyone else as well. Even though they'll be in a different system, that's a lot of experience that'll be starting. Look mom, no freshmen!

Also, Greg Mattison is the new defensive coordinator:
Brady Hoke has hired Baltimore Ravens Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison to the same position at the University of Michigan according to NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. This was confirmed by John Harbaugh, the current head coach of the Baltimore Ravens
"We’re excited for our defense and for Chuck, and we’re happy for Greg Mattison," coach John Harbaugh said. "I will talk more about it tomorrow when we formally announced Chuck as our new coordinator in a press conference.
Mattison replaced Rex Ryan as Defensive Coordinator for the Ravens when Ryan moved to coach the Jets. He coached linebackers for the Ravens prior to that.

Plenty more analysis to come, but my extremely brief analysis of the situation is basically "sweeeet."
Sweet, indeed. This guy is actually...well...good. Fare thee well, 3-3-5. We will decidedly NOT miss you.

So there's plenty to be optimistic about. There'll still be questions about how well the offense will do, how the transition will be this first year overall, what Hoke will be able to do once he has to start breaking in recruits, etc. But I'm more at ease with things than I was earlier.

OMG you guys! A producer from Ellen DeGeneres' show has contacted the United Church of Christ to acknowledge their goofy campaign to get her to General Synod:
A producer for The Ellen DeGeneres Show has contacted the UCC's communications director, asking for more information about the UCC's campaign to get the popular TV personality to attend the denomination's national General Synod, July 1-5, in Tampa, Fla.

"Evidently, it was a news report in Tampa about our campaign that finally got through to Ellen and her staff," said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess. "We were contacted by one of Ellen's producers and asked to submit more information about our request of her."

After telling the producer about General Synod and why the UCC's planning committee thinks Ellen should address the UCC, Guess received a written response: "I just wanted to let you know I passed your information and request along to our executives. Our staff here deals with the show, but Ellen's life outside the show, including appearances, is handled by a different team. I know they are aware of your request and hopefully will be in touch with you."

"I at least feel good knowing that, at this phase, Ellen is aware of our campaign," Guess says, "but we're going to have to significantly ramp up our grassroots effort if we're going to make it impossible for Ellen to ignore our invitation. But if Betty White's fans can get her to host SNL, we can convince Ellen DeGeneres to come to Tampa."
I still don't really find myself having a dog in this race. I'm not going to Synod, so in that sense whether she comes does not affect me. In the sense that her positivity and celebrity would somehow do great things for the UCC, yeah, okay great I guess.

Here's how it will go if she comes: the people who already like what the national office stands for will jump for joy, a couple unchurched people who see a news clip about it may be impressed by her presence enough to wander into a UCC church (which in turn may produce mixed results), and a bunch of other people will point and say, "See? These people aren't Christians because 1) they invited a lesbian to speak 2) they invited a non-Christian/ambivalent-about-her-beliefs-person to speak 3) all of the above, plus probably some other stuff I'm mad about." But if those reactions are satisfactory enough to you, then continue to have at it, brothers and sisters.